Construction Employment Rises in 44 States

Forty-four states and Washington, D.C., added construction jobs between January 2015 and January 2016 while construction employment increased in 30 states and Washington, D.C., between December and January, according to analysis of Labor Department data released this week by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC). Association officials said the new employment figures show strong demand for construction except in a number of energy-producing states.

“Construction remains vibrant in nearly every state and is adding workers at a faster clip than other industries in much of the country,” says Ken Simonson, AGC chief economist. “Contractors report they are optimistic that demand for construction will continue, but they worry about finding enough qualified workers.”

California added the most (45,700 jobs, 6.5 percent) construction jobs between January 2015 and January 2016. Other states adding a high number of new construction jobs for the past 12 months include Florida (30,500 jobs, 7.3 percent), Texas (18,700 jobs, 2.8 percent) and New York (15,700 jobs, 4.5 percent). Hawaii added the highest percentage of new construction jobs during the past year (15.6 percent, 5,100 jobs), followed by Rhode Island (12.7 percent, 2,100 jobs), Nevada (10.2 percent, 6,800 jobs) and Massachusetts (9.9 percent, 13,200 jobs).

The six states that shed construction jobs during the past 12 months have been hurt by the steep drop in oil and gas drilling and coal mining, according to Simonson. North Dakota (-14.4 percent, -5,300 jobs) lost the highest percent and total number of construction jobs. Other states that lost jobs for the year include Alaska (-8.7 percent, -1,600 jobs), West Virginia (-7.4 percent, -2,500 jobs), Wyoming (-5.1 percent, -1,200 jobs), Kansas (-2.2 percent, -1,300 jobs) and Pennsylvania (-1.5 percent, -3,600 jobs).

AGC officials say the January state employment figures indicate strong demand for construction services throughout the country, except in a number of states that rely heavily on energy production. The latest report also notes that the strong demand is welcome but is likely to put further strain on already tight labor conditions.

“Contractors won’t be able to keep pace with demand for their services if they don’t have enough workers to complete projects on schedule,” says Stephen E. Sandherr, CEO of AGC.

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